Tag Archives: Morocco

Morocco – The weird and Wonderful

So to coincide with our competition to win a 5 night trip for 2 to Marrakech we thought we’d share with you some bizarre facts you may not know about this awesome place…

 

Firstly, have you heard of the Flic-Flac Spider?
Well Ben from our office had and we agreed a native cartwheeling spider was definitely weird enough to share with you…look at him go!

 

 

 

Apparently it’s impolite to handle food with your left hand.

hands

 

 

Morocco is the largest processor and exporter of sardines in the world.

sardines

 

 

“Gladiator” was filmed here.

gladiator

 

 

Traditionally the liver, not the heart, is considered to be the symbol of love in Morocco.

liver

 

Can you add any to these?

 

 

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Yummy Moroccan Almond Phyllo Pastries

Now our Marrakech competition is well under way and all us guys in the office have started dreaming of those amazing tastes and colours of the market, we thought we’d share with you a taste of Morocco!

 

It’s a bit of a long one, taking about an hour and 50 mins in total, but it serves about 6 and is massively worth it!

 

pastry

 

Ingredients

  • For the Filling
  • 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

 

  • For Assembly
  • 12 (12- by 17-inch) sheets phyllo dough
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

 

1. For filling: In the bowl of a food processor, combine almonds and confectioners’ sugar and pulse until a coarse meal. Add cinnamon, cardamom, egg yolk, vanilla, and butter and pulse until mixture is a paste. It doesn’t have to be completely smooth though the almonds should be ground very fine. Cover paste with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

 

3. Lay one sheet of phyllo on prepared baking sheet. Brush with butter then fold in half lengthwise, creating a 6- by 8 1/2-inch rectangle. Brush top of rectangle with more butter, then lay a second sheet of phyllo on top, placing it so that the long edge on the one side is aligned (new sheet of phyllo should hang off the other edge). Brush the aligned-half of the top sheet of phyllo with more butter and fold over to match the 6- by 8 1/2-inch rectangle formed by the first. You should end up with a stack of phyllo that is four sheets thick. Repeat with two more pieces of phyllo to produce a 6- by 8 1/2-inch stack of phyllo 8 layers thick.

 

4. Repeat step 3 with remaining 8 sheets phyllo dough, forming three rectangles of 8 layers each total.

 

5. Divide almond filling into three equal parts. Roll one part into a 8 1/2-inch log. Lay log alongside phyllo then roll up, jelly roll style, to form a rope. Curl rope into a tight coil and brush with butter.

 

6. Repeat steps 3 and 4 twice more, creating two more coils. Bake coils until golden, about 40 minutes. Let cool completely then dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

There’s still time to enter our competition to win a 5 night stay for 2 in the beautiful Marrakech by clicking here.

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Your essential travel guide – Joe Browns style!

Marrakech

 

marrakech_square

 

Best food: From tagines to couscous, Moroccan food is full of flavours. For the sweet tooth, almond-filled pastries will be a treat – go for Baby gazelle’s horns (it’s only a name!). And deliciously sweet orange slices sprinkled with cinnamon are not to be missed.

 

Best place to drink: The Jemaa El Fna square is a must see. Buzzing with locals and tourists, snake charmers and street vendors, it is a place like no other. Just grab a freshly squeezed orange juice and enjoy the show.

 

Funnest thing to do: Haggle all you can in the souks. These markets are amazing and part of the fun is to negotiate prices down. Plus, visit the spice stalls for guaranteed delight of the senses.

 

Something a bit cultural: You cannot go to beautiful Marrakech and miss the Koutoubia Mosque. Its minaret can be seen from most parts of the city. It cannot be entered by non-Muslims as it is an active place of worship, but just its exterior is worth it.

 

Not to be missed: Hop on a ‘caleche’ (horse-drawn carriage to you and I) for the ultimately romantic trip around town (at sunset for added wow factor) and finish in a traditional café sipping a mint tea in a small glass.

 

 

Amsterdam

amsterdam

 

Best food: OK so it’s not Dutch, but La Oliva in the quiet Jordan area of Amsterdam is a massive favourite with locals and serves northern Spanish tapas. What’s great is that there’s tons of gorgeous dishes (about 5 Euros each) all displayed along the counter and you can order as many as you want or keep coming back if you’re still peckish all night long and the flavours are amazing. If you want to go a bit posher, Restaurant De Kas is fantastic. Serving a fixed menu based on what’s available from the restaurant’s very own allotment, you will dine in a stylish greenhouse set in the middle of Park Frankendael; gorgeous food and lovely atmosphere without being pompous.

 

Best place to drink: If you find yourself strolling down the red light district (looking for a drink of course) then the Café Van Beeran is a great little stop off with a cosy interior and great Dutch draft lagers and wines.

 

Funnest thing to do: The Zoo! Every kid (and big kid) loves the zoo and this is a great one. It’s walkable from the city centre, there are tons of animals in nice big enclosures and it’s really well kept.

 

Something a bit cultural: The Van Gogh Museum is a must whether you’re that fussed about his art or not, it’s a great couple of hours, 17 Euros and he’s a pretty fascinating chap to find out about.

 

Not to be missed: The waffles! You’ll pass hundreds of kiosks selling waffles, but you must absolutely stop at at least one to have one with warm chocolate smothered all of it. To. Die. For.

 

 

Dorset

dorset_countryside

 

Best food: Head out into the countryside to the Limestone Hotel, the food is amazing, especially the seafood, and the view is just as good. Definitely worth the journey if you fancy treating yourself.

 

Best place to drink: If the sun’s out then get to the Smuggler’s Inn in Osmington. They do amazing beers and they taste even better when you can drink them sat on the beach. If the pub was any nearer to the sea then you’d get your feet wet.

 

Funnest thing to do: Grab a body board and hit the beach! Although the waves don’t make for perfect surfing (like in nearby Cornwall) there’s still plenty of surf for some body boarding fun.

 

Something a bit cultural: Camp Bestival takes place every summer at Lulworth Castle, it’s a pretty small music festival with some surprisingly big bands on. They also have loads of other stuff going on over the weekend, like comedians and activities for the kids.

 

Not to be missed: Walk along the coast to Lulworth Cove, the views are amazing and when you get there you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous little town and fantastic beaches.

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Fancy a break?

You could win a 5-night stay for 2 in the gorgeous Marrakech by simply passing on one of your top holiday tips.

 

There’s nothing better when you go away then when you’ve got a secret hidden gem from a friend telling you where the best little non-touristy cafe is or which bar the locals play live music in.

 

By sharing yours, from anywhere in the world – be it the Yorkshire Dales or Panama – you could win this amazing holiday.

 

Simply share yours here.

 

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Lamb Tagine… with pomegranate?

With the sun paying us a cheeky little visit and our Holiday to Morocco Competition well under way it’s not surprising our thoughts for dinner (always thinking of food) turned to Marrakech.

 

But there’s not a chance in hell we’d be happy with any old bog standard tagine recipe you’d find in the back of your recipe book.

 

So here’s one with a crunchy twist…

 

tagine

 

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4

2 x 300g packs lamb leg steaks

2 onions

200g dried apricots

3 x 80g packs pomegranate seeds

4 cloves garlic

A little sunflower oil

1 chicken stock cube

1 heaped tsp each ground cumin, cinnamon, paprika, chilli and turmeric

400g tin chunky chopped tomatoes with herbs

 

METHOD

Chop the lamb into medium-sized chunks. Peel and slice the onions thickly. Cut the apricots in half. Peel and finely chop the garlic.

In a large saucepan, fry the onions and the lamb together with a little oil until browned.

Meanwhile, dissolve the stock cube in 600ml boiling water.

Add the spices to the lamb, mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock, chopped tomatoes and the apricots; bring to the boil, then turn down to simmer.

Add two-thirds of the pomegranate seeds and the chopped garlic, then season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper. Cover with a lid and simmer for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Check that the lamb is tender – if it is not, cook for a further 15 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the leftover pomegranate seeds – great with couscous.

 

 

Yes. Please.

 

If you haven’t entered our Morocco competition yet to win a 5 night stay for 2 in Marrakech plus £500 of Joe Browns style, you still can here.

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